Skier and Rider Wish List.
Now that the insanity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has passed, we can sit down and give some measured thought to the accessories available for your favorite skier and snowboarder on your holiday list.
We're going to avoid skis, boards, and boots, because there are so many quality choices, and those choices can vary dramatically between individuals. The same can be said for outerwear, including jackets, shells, and pants, though you can't go wrong with any gear produced by the great brands such as Arc'Teryx, Mountain Hardwear, Helly Hansen, Marmot, Obermeyer, Spyder, Trew, Columbia, and L.L. Bean, among others.
The following gift ideas are intriguing items that caught our eye. We're not suggesting they're the "best" or the "greatest." There are simply too many choices, and personal preference can make a big difference. So hang on to those gift receipts, and don't be offended if folks want to exchange your gift for an item that's a better "fit."
Remember, it's the thought that counts.
Anyone who has skied in fog knows how disconcerting that sensation can be. You've got to see where you're going. Good goggles will help you do that.
Smith Optics I/OX Turbo Fan
Over-the-glass (OTG) goggles are ideal if you wear glasses, but can be worn by anyone. Smith Optics IOX Turbo Fan is a top-of-the-line OTG goggle, with high-quality lenses – choose between several color options – and a whisper-quiet fan. Don't need something that fancy? Smith's I/O Goggles boast interchangeable lenses, a remarkable field of view, snug fit, and fog-free optical technology.
Instead of a fan, Abom goggles operate like a car's rear defroster, with an invisible heat-conductive film between a two-part lens. A rechargeable battery sends a current through the film, heating the lens and keeping fog at bay. Battery life is rated at about 6 hours in "active mode," but the "boost mode" provides quick antifogging for 10 minutes. The Carl Zeiss lens system comes in several colors options for different weather conditions.
Zeal Optics' new rimless frame design and magnetic Rail Lock System(RLS) utilizes dual rails to quickly and seamlessly lock in your lens. Other features include triple-layer face foam, anti-fog technology, and photo-chromatic lens options. The Portal/RLS is available in the Zeal Optics Automatic+, Polarized and Optimum collections.
Giro Axis Goggle
I absolutely love Giro helmets. But Giro's Axis goggles take magnetic lens swapping to the next level, employing snaps to lock the lens in place more securely. Axis comes with a pair of VIVID lenses – one all-condition, one low-light – designed to invite in contrast-enhancing blue light while blocking the harmful lights.
Two things convinced me to start wearing a helmet. As a longtime cyclist, I appreciate how light and comfortable these lids are today. Plus, when our young daughters started skiing, my wife and I made sure they had helmets. And the easiest way to convince them that helmets weren't optional was to show them that Mom and Dad wore them. Now I feel weird without my helmet, much like riding a bike.
POC Auric Backcountry SPIN
This new offering from POC features the company's take on rotational impact protection. The SPIN system has internal pads that shear in all direction, designed to reduce the force of an impact transmitted to the head and brain. Other great options by this Swedish manufacturer include the Receptor Bug and Fornix helmets, both of which are available with built-in Beats by Dre headphones (a very slick alternative).
Sleek and subtle, the Smith Code has an Aerocore construction featuring Koroyd inserts for serious protection. The Boa FS360 fit system (with a 360-degree halo design) provides a customized fit and Smith's AirEvac technology ensures textbook goggle integration. Another excellent offering is the Smith Vantage, which comes in an MIPS version, with the shell and liner separated by a low friction layer that "allows the helmet to slide relative to the head."
Giro Range MIPS
The Range MIPS has a beautifully integrated fit at the turn of a dial. By utilizing a two-piece shell and a durable yet semi-flexible design – called Conform Fit Technology – the Range expands and contracts to adapt to individual head shape. The result is not only unsurpassed comfort, but also the sleekest, lowest profile helmet in Giro’s history. Add features like MIPS technology, adjustable venting, integrated POV camera mount, and Fidlock® magnetic buckle closure, and you've got a winner.
Uvex HLMT 300 Pola
I'm personally not a fan of helmet/goggle combos, but the HLMT 300 Pola – Uvex's newest visor-style helmet – is a great choice for those who are. The visor moves seamlessly into the helmet for when you don't want it. The lens uses photochromic VarioPola technology, which adapts automatically to the weather conditions to provide better contrast. Plus, the open design prevents fogging, thanks to its superior ventilation.
One of my favorite aspects of ski movies like Greg Stumps "Blizzard of Ahhh's" and "License to Thrill" is a killer soundtrack. Skiing and good music just go together. So you want a top-notch portable audio system. My only request is that you don't play your music so loud that you can hear others on the trails. You're not in a bubble, and this isn't virtual reality. Skier-to-skier communication is critical to keeping everyone safe.
Outdoor Tech Universal Wireless Audio Chips
Attach these chips to any audio-compatible helmet to easily connect with any Bluetooth device for 10 hours full of melodies. Features include play and pause, volume control, track selection, Walkie-Talkie, push-to-talk communication, and built-in call functionality, all without having to remove your gloves. Pretty sweet.
Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless
These lightweight Bluetooth headphones offer 22 hours of rechargeable battery life, memory foam ear cushions, and pivoting armatures for a customized fit. Rapid Charge Technology transforms a 10-minute charge into 4 hours of play time. And the acoustics are simply exceptional.
We're living in the video age. For me, having a great run, and having the memory of that great run, is enough. But I'm Old School. In this modern-day TMZ world, folks want video evidence.
It's nothing less than stunning to see the improvements in action cameras over the past decade. The Hero6 is a first-rate camera that doubles as a dash cam, providing quick mounting, reliable operation, outstanding video and images, and top-notch audio recording. It's durable and versatile, with better battery life than most action cameras. That's a tough combination to beat.
YI 4K Action Camera
For a less-expensive substitute for a GoPro, the YI 4K Action Camera delivers a lot of bang for the buck. You'll have to buy an accessory kit to use it while skiing, but it's short money (about $30).
I'm not much of a high-tech guy, though my wife has dragged me into the world of modern fitness by getting me a FitBit, and my cycling buddies have shown me the benefits of Strava. More intel means more devices.
MyCharge All Terrain+
MyCharge's burly, military-grade external battery chargers come in a few different capacities. The line is is particularly well suited for skiers, thanks to the waterproof design. However, you'll need to get your own charging cables. The All Terrain+ has enough capacity to can charge an iPhone three times.
Trace Surf & Snow GPS Action Sports Tracker
This fun new sports tracker – created for all sports enthusiasts – works particularly well fro skiers and snowboarders. This device records stats specifically for action sports such as surfing, skiing, skating or snowboarding. Made with advanced sensors and GPS technology, the tracker helps folks calculate the speed, height, distance and rotation of all their runs and freestyle moves.
SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak Watch
This remarkable piece of technology includes a built-in altimeter, compass, and pinpoint GPS tracking. Its steel-and-crystal design is not only rugged, but also water resistant up to 100 meters. With a battery life of about 200 hours, the GPS will be there when you need it. The built-in pressure sensor gives you weather and altitude data while recording speed, distance, and time as you ski down the slopes. Pretty impressive.
Anker PowerCore 13000
There's never a good time to have your cell phone die. Having that happen on the mountain is particularly bad. Anker's PowerCore 13000 will keep tablets and phones fully charged. It's a little bulky, but that's a small price to pay to make sure your phone stays up and running.
Celestron Elements FireCel Plus 3-in-1
One of the most versatile ski accessories, the Elements FireCel is a hand-warmer, multi-function LED flashlight, and rechargeable power pack rolled into one. The hand-warmer works quickly, with two temperature settings (110 and 130 degrees). The rechargeable lithium-ion battery can charge smart phones, MP3 players and other USB-powered devices. The LED flashlight includes five different modes, including SOS. Nifty.
The compact Zippo hand-warmers are sleek enough to fit into almost any pocket, with a catalytic burner that offers consistent warmth for up to 12 hours. The metal construction is rugged and resilient. Choose from two sizes (the 12-hour warmer is 3.9 inches tall while the 6-hour warmer is 2.9 inches) and five colors.
Skiing and snowboarding are gear-intensive activities. Having the right bag or pack to move all that stuff around can go a long way to improving your day on the hill.
Kulkea Thermal Trekker
New for 2017, the Thermal Trekker builds on the gold-standard Kulkea boot bag platform, adding insulation and conduction-heated warmth for your boots, helmet, and other gear and apparel. The padded adjustable straps makes hauling all the gear a breeze, and the heating units will plug into either a wall outlet or a car charger.
This multi-sport backpack is a skier's dream, with a low-profile shape that can expand to handle storage needs as you shed layers. Micro Pack also has a "hydration holster" for water bottles or bladder, helmet loops, emergency whistle, and the underappreciated wait belt to keep the pack in place when you're ripping a mogul run.
Mammut Removable Airbag System RAS 3.0
Heading to the backcountry? The Mammut Removable Airbag System RAS 3.0 is your insurance policy against avalanches, and can be matched with several different packs, such as the Dakine Poacher RAS 26L.
Keeping hydrated is key for any physical activity, but doubly important when you're playing at altitude.
Cauldryn Fyre Mobile
The Cauldryn Fyre Mobile is a 16-ounce, stainless steel, vacuum-insulated bottle with a heating element that allows you to boil water, and keep your hot beverages at ideal temperatures all day long. The unit includes a rechargeable battery and USB port, so you can charge your other electronic devices.
YETI Rambler Colster
YETI's indestructible koozies feature double-wall vacuum insulation, securing both 12-ounce bottles and cans in a No Sweat Design that ensures that you can keep you hands dry.
OtterBox Elevation 64 Growler
This stainless steel 64-ounce tumbler is equally adept a keeping beer or water cold, securing contents with a screw-on, leak-proof lid. The sweat-resistant design leaves no outside trace, and an internal copper lining keeps beverages cold for up to seven days.
Frostbit is no fun. Take precautions. The traditional balaclava or neck gaiter will do the job in most instances.
ColdAvenger Pro Soft Shell Mask
This mask is like a balaclava on steroids, protecting your face, neck, ears, and airway from cold weather, while also humidifying the dry, cold air. The mask is not only great for skiers and snowboarders, but other winter activities like snowshoeing and snowmobiling as well.
Seirus Magnemask Combo Clava
Seirus' Magnemask is a fleece ski mask with magnetic seams so you can easily pull the mask off your face and slip it back on again when you need it. It comes in multiple sizes, which is an improvement over the one-size-fits-all option.
For my wife, nothing can ruin a day on the hill quicker than her hands getting cold. That fact alone has heightened my awareness, and appreciation, for good gloves.
Chaval's Response-XRT heated gloves features Chaval AlphaHeat 2.0 technology, which the company says "thinks for you, automatically adjusting through infinite levels of heat to keep your hands perfectly warm." It's also supposed to improve battery life, and Chaval claims the gloves are superior at warming your hands in sub-zero temperatures. Expect battery life of between 4 and 6 hours.
The Seirus Inferno is one of the more comfortable heated gloves you can find, with three temperature settings to keep your fingers toasty. Battery life depends on which setting you choose (expect only 2 hours of battery life on very cold days before popping into the lodge to recharge. These gloves are built to last, and toggling between the various settings is a snap.
eGlove Heli Snowboard Touchscreen
These water-resistant gloves are touchscreen friendly, made with touchscreen pads to use with all smart phones and similar devices. Additionally, these gloves feature high-grade goat leather and windproof fabric both inside and out. They also come with a removable wrist support.
BearTek Bluetooth Snowsport
Functionality is important. BearTek's Bluetooth Snowsport gloves turn your hand into a remote control by adding a wireless Sync Module that tucks into a pocket of their gloves (it charges via USB, for up to 80 hours). Pair the gloves with your Bluetooth-enabled smart phone. You can perform some basic commands by tapping the touch points on the fingers of the glove to an activation touch point on the thumb. Crazy.
Like our hands, our toes are more susceptible to the cold that the rest of our bodies.
Hotronic FootWarmer S4
Toe warmers are a terrific option in a pinch. But if you're facing a really cold day, or tend to get cold feet easily, consider the battery-powered Hotronic Footwarmer with its heated footbed. However, the footbeds require custom installation, so that's added expense.
ThermaCell ProFlex Insoles
The ThermaCell ProFlex remote-controlled heated insoles are flexible and can be cut to fit. The rechargeable battery – providing up to five hours of warmth per charge at three different temperature settings – is removable and can be swapped out.
ThermaCell heat packs
Thermacell's Heat Packs may not work quite as well as the low-tech disposable hand warmers, but they're reusable and charge via micro-USB. The smallest version is designed to fit in a pocket or a glove. Heat Packs can be switched between no heat, low, medium, and high. They last up to 6 hours per charge.
OK, admit it. Have you ever gotten your ski day off to a rough start by taking a fall just trying to get across the parking lot?
Ice Bug Solus
The Swedes know all about long winter, and their line of Ice Bug boots, shoes, and sneakers give you an edge against ice. The Solus features everything you want in a winter shoe; water repellency, fleece lining, and the BUGrip traction outsole with its dynamic studs. For hiking, consider the Ice Bug Detour.
How's this for convenience? Just slip on this over-shoe traction device, and let the 3/8th-inch triangular carbon steel spikes supply added grip on ice and snow. The Summit cinches tight via the Boa Closure System, providing a secure fit.
PEET Dryer Original 2-Shoe Electric Dryer
The PEET shoe dryer dries any shoe (or ski boot) no matter how wet it gets. Drying your shoes can not only extend their lifespan, but also will remove viruses and skin irritants. Keeping your shoes dry also eliminates odors caused by bacteria and sweat.
One last piece of advice. Many items on our list are brand new – such as the Kulkea Thermal Trekker and MicroPack – but a number are also the current generation of a tried and true model. If you're looking for deals, don't be afraid to check out the clearance prices on "last year's model."
Image: Brian Irwin
Thermal Trekker Review.
Dealing with Fear While Skiing.
Set Preseason Ski Goals.